Guide to California Trails and Taquerias

There’s nothing more gratifying after a long hike than a plate full of tacos and a cold cerveza. Trust us, we Toads are experts. With half of HQ born and bred Californians and the rest happy transplants, we’ve got this state pretty well covered. If you find yourself in the Golden State, here’s where we recommend heading. And we know you know, but stay on trails and pack-in-pack-out. Save your reckless abandon for the taquerias.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SAN DIEGO

Torrey Pines State Park – Easy trail along the Pacific coast with a glimpse of the rarest pine tree around.

The Taco Stand – Tacos al pastor, Mexican street corn, mango chile paletas. YUM.

JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK

Willow Hole Trail – Big rocks and an oasis; great spot to see wildlife like big horn sheep.  

Algobertos Taco Shop – Hole in the wall taqueria with burritos bigger than the front door.

LOS ANGELES

Bronson Canyon – Part of LA’s Griffith Park, so hike up to the Observatory and channel James Dean.  

Ricky’s Fish Tacos – There are 3 options: fish, shrimp, and special. Get all 3.

OJAI  

Horn Canyon – Crisscross streams toward an epic pine grove with distant views of the Channel Islands.

Ojai Tortilla House – Cash only, handmade tortillas daily. Buy some to go if you know what’s good for you.

SANTA BARBARA

Rattlesnake Trail – Named for the twisty nature, not the inhabitants. Moderate to the meadow, then steep for .5 miles to the top. Good views abound.

Mony’s Tacos – Great salsa bar (hello pistachio salsa) and 5 minute walk to the beach.  

SANTA CRUZ

Old Cove Landing Trail – 3 of the 34 miles of trails in the Wilder Ranch State Park. Bonus: Wheelchair and stroller accessible!

De La Hacienda Taqueria – Carnitas are bomb, but so is the veggie burrito. Something for everyone!

BISHOP

Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest Trail – 4.4 miles through the oldest trees in the WORLD. Like 5,000+ years old.

Taqueria Mi Guadalajara – A sedentary taco truck with bizarro hours and delish barbacoa.

EAST BAY/OAKLAND

East Ridge Trail – In Redwood Regional Park; you can see SF on a clear day then hike down into the redwoods.

Mariscos La Costa – Cash only so you know it’s legit. Great ceviche tostada. 

SAN FRANCISCO  

Golden Gate Park – Start at 9th and Lincoln, mosey through the Botanical Garden, loop around Stow Lake.

Taco Shop at Underdogs – sports bar-slash-taqueria. $1 margaritas Fridays 6- 6:30.

 

NORTH BAY/MILL VALLEY

Dipsea Trail – 9.5 mile trail from Muir Woods to Stinson beach. Steep grades = amazing views of San Francisco Bay, Golden Gate Bridge, Mt. Tamalpais and the Pacific.

Parranga – Tacos and ceviche; get the slow-roasted rotisserie chicken plate. 

 

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE

Maggie’s Peak – Make your way to Granite Lake and keep on going. The sweeping views of Lake Tahoe are worth it.

Chimayó Tacos y Tortas – Taqueria meets BBQ meets bar. Not as “divey” but just as delicious.

 

SHASTA-TRINITY NATIONAL FOREST

Pacific Crest Trail – A portion of this epic 2,650 trail makes a great day hike to Middle Deadfall Lake; start at the Parks Creek Trailhead.

El Zaguan Food Truck – Parked in Weed, CA. Cheap street tacos with a million dollar view of Mt. Shasta.

 

The Ultimate Trail to Tavern 3-Day Weekend in the Twin Cities

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How great is that moment of relaxation that washes over you when you sit down after a long day of tackling the trails to take your first sip of a locally brewed beer? Some might call it priceless, but most agree it’s at least worth the $5-7 price tag for a cold pint in the Twin Cities.

In addition to being a place where taphouses quadrupled (!) between 2013 and 2016, Minneapolis and St. Paul offer extensive outdoor activities. The area has taken home awards like the #1 Bike City and has been the only U.S. city on a global list of bike-friendly spots; not to mention the paddling opportunities on urban lakes and trails winding through some of the best parks in the country.

All of this adds up to one thing—you simply have to tackle a Trail to Tavern® adventure in this Minnesota metropolis the next time you have a long weekend coming up. Because the Twin Cities are just that—two cities smashed together—the area isn’t tiny, so the best way to approach a long weekend is to divide and conquer. We’ve done all the planning for you, so all you’ve gotta do is get yourself here!

Day One

Minnehaha Park is one of the oldest and most popular parks in the area.Minnehaha Park is one of the oldest and most popular parks in the area. Adam Fagen

Your first day should absolutely be spent exploring the outdoors in Minneapolis. There’s plenty to choose from, but the beauty is that they’re all doable if you start your day early enough. Luckily, each option is also great all by itself, so you’re guaranteed a good time even if you only tackle a few.

Kick off your weekend with a trip to Bogart’s Doughnut Co. for a quick and delicious donut and coffee before you head over to Minnehaha Regional Park—a must-see for waterfalls, Mississippi River overlooks, and hiking that will make you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the city. There are almost 10 miles of paved path at the park, so pick up a map when you get there and start exploring!

If you’ve got Fido in tow, there’s an excellent dog park within Minnehaha for more than six acres of off-leash glory—filled with trees, sand, and plenty of riverfront for your four-legged buddy to enjoy. (You do need to buy a permit in advance to take your dog to the dog park, though.)

When it’s time to take a break, relax on the patio or play some Skee-Ball at Pat’s Tap. This Skee-Club (yes, that’s right) and gastropub serves up squeaky cheese curds, full meals, and a wide range of drinks. With 20 beers on tap and more than 100 available in cans, you’re sure to find something to drink here (even if you need gluten-free). This south Minneapolis hot spot also welcomes dogs on its patio, so don’t feel like your pup has to stay behind.

After fueling up at Pat’s, biking the 5.5-mile Midtown Greenway is an excellent way to take a tour of the city itself while getting a few miles of cycling in. You can rent a bike from Nice Ride, the Twin Cities’ public bike sharing system, and it’s just $3 per half hour.

The Fulton Taproom is a local favorite. Photo courtesy of Fulton BeerThe Fulton Taproom is a local favorite. Photo courtesy of Fulton Beer.

When the sun starts to set, keep the day going by hitting up another of the city’s many amazing breweries. The Fulton Taproom is a local favorite (you have to try the Lonely Blonde) and Lakes and Legends is another super pup-friendly spot that has a variety of games like hammerschlagen—a German game that entails hitting a nail into a piece of wood with the narrow end of a hammer. Bauhaus in Northeast (or Nordeast if you ask a local) has one of the best patios in the city and a solid rotation of local food trucks to supplement their brews.

For those that are less into beer, head on over to recently opened Twin Spirits, the first one-woman owned distillery in the entire state. You can tour the distillery on Wednesdays or Saturdays, and be sure to taste Mamma’s Moonshine, which is more of a mead made with Minnesota honey instead of the traditional white corn whiskey.

Where to Stay

Like any big city, Minneapolis has many chain and boutique hotels. A couple of good options are the Nicolette Island Inn on an island in the Mississippi and the Alma Hotel and Cafe along the banks of the river. If you brought a four-legged companion, try the pet-friendly Kimpton Grand.

If Airbnb is more your style, look for something in South Minneapolis for a residential feel or Uptown (Lyndale / Lake area) to be close to all the nightlife action.

Day Two

Paddling around the Lake of the Isles can be a peaceful experience.Paddling around the Lake of the Isles can be a peaceful experience. Michael Hicks

Start your second day at Al’s Breakfast, located in the heart of Dinkytown near the University of Minnesota’s Minneapolis campus. This gem is counter service only, and is the go-to spot for traditional morning favorites like scrambled eggs and strong coffee. Then it’s off to the city’s signature lakes.

There’s a reason that the Chain of Lakes is one of the pride and joys of the Twin Cities—not many places can boast four major, connected lakes within their boundaries. Found near the bustling Uptown neighborhood, Lake Calhoun, Lake Harriet, Lake of the Isles, and Cedar Lake offer endless outdoor fun all year long. During the summer the lakes are filled with swimmers, beachgoers, and paddlers of all kinds, but even in the winter there are ways to enjoy the lakes. Ice fishing is popular, as is simply taking a walk across the frozen wonderland that the lakes become when they freeze over. There’s also an annual lantern festival, the Luminary Loppet held on Lake of the Isles, that is an incredibly unique event designed to celebrate Minnesota’s most extreme season: winter.

Paddling is a great way to spend your day at the lakes. One option is to put-in at Lake of the Isles Park and paddle through a tree-lined canal down to Lake Calhoun, a popular spot for windsurfing. From Lake of the Isles, you can also paddle up to Cedar Lake, where you’ll find a little beach. You can also put-in at Lynnhurst Park just south of Lake Harriet and paddle Minnehaha Creek east to Minnehaha Falls (it’s about six miles). For a real adventure, skip the lakes and head about half an hour west to Lake Minnetonka and take Minnehaha Creek all the way to the falls (this trip is about 22 miles).

Because the lakes are smack-dab in the middle of the city, there are plenty of options nearby for grabbing a quick lunch after building up an appetite. Bread & Pickle near Harriet Lake (only open from May until Labor Day) offers sandwiches, salads, and ice cream, using locally sourced ingredients as much as possible. If you find yourself at the northern lakes, try Namaste Cafe for a great selection of vegetarian fare, or Stella’s Fish Cafe & Prestige Oyster Bar for tuna poke or blackened fish tacos. Stella’s also offers a handful of beers on tap and in bottles.

After you’ve had your fill of the water and your feet start to itch for solid ground, the lakes are also the perfect place to go for an afternoon run. Each lake is encircled by a fully paved running and biking path and they all connect for about 15 miles of trails, which means you can run or bike for exactly as long as you want.

Once you get cleaned up and are ready to explore the nightlife, Uptown is full of great places to hang with the locals. LynLake Brewery is located just a few blocks from the lakes in the heart of uptown. It has a rooftop complete with a fire pit and a view of the city to rival the rest. For the gamers in your group, Up-Down is a top notch spot filled with giant Jenga and Connect Four, craft beer, and a variety of video games like Mario Kart and Frogger in addition to 90s TV shows like Rugrats and Ah! Real Monsters on repeat. Bryant-Lake Bowl is the place to go to drink, eat, and bowl until 2 am. The best part? The bowling is totally free (as long as you’re buying a drink).

Day Three

There are some excellent trails to discover at Fort Snelling State Park.There are some excellent trails to discover at Fort Snelling State Park. Jeanne W

On your third and final day, make your way across the river to the less-explored St. Paul side of the Twin Cities. Here you’ll find fewer hipsters, but just as many outdoor opportunities and local beer options. The Minnesota River Trail is an expansive, 318-mile water trail that stretches from Big Stone Lake in the northern part of the state to where it meets the mighty Mississippi River near St. Paul’s Fort Snelling State Park. Here, you can take off for an exploration of the last few miles of the massive river trail or trot along any of the historic fort’s 18 miles of hiking trails.

If you’ve been dying to get some time on your mountain bike, continue east to Battle Creek Regional Park. The trail system here has 4.5 miles of singletrack and 3.3 miles of multi-use trails with rolling hills and steep climbs through the forest.

For lunch, catch a food truck and a pint at Bad Weather Brewing Company, a local favorite that prides itself on crafting beer that is “untethered and unpredictable, just like the weather here in Minnesota.” As such, their brews are always in flux, constantly offering something new to their loyal band of followers. If none of the seasonal options tickle your fancy, try one of the popular flagship brews, like the hoppy Windvane Red IPA or the citrusy Hopcromancer American IPA.

Post-feast, put in a solid climbing session at Vertical Endeavors, one of the largest indoor gyms in the country. They have a location in Minneapolis, too, but the one on Phalen Boulevard and Arcade Street/U.S. 61 is just a few miles from Bad Weather. With more than 18,000 feet of climbing space, offering top-roping, two bouldering spaces, an auto-belay device, and lead-climbing routes, it’s the perfect place to spend an afternoon. The gym also features a Nicros A.R.T.Wall™, made from molds of real rock for a natural look and feel.

Finish your weekend at the Summit Brewing Company, the source of the national favorite, or the Wabasha Brewing Company. You can’t go wrong with either, but the latter is “just a stone’s throw” from the Wabasha Street Caves—one of the most fun and well-kept secrets in the Twin Cities.

With so much to do, this itinerary is really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to adventure in the Twin Cities, and that’s not even touching the Great Lakes (a mere 2.5-hour drive away). As you can see, there is plenty to keep you busy for weeks, months, or even years, so you may want to carve out a few long weekends to visit this northern state.

Originally written by RootsRated for Toad&Co.

Featured image provided by PunkToad

The Ultimate Trail to Tavern 3-Day Weekend in Portland, Maine

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Known for lobster, miles of coastline, and landscapes that have inspired artists for centuries, Portland may be our coziest Trail to Tavern® city yet. Once the capital of Maine and still the largest city in the state, this industrial town has turned into a true foodie destination with about 200 restaurants and more than 20 breweries (and that number grows each year). Pair that with more than 70 miles of urban trails, and you’ve got a full weekend ahead.

But with so many options, how do you make the most out of three days in Portland? Even just walking, eating, and drinking your way across the Forest City would be considered a major accomplishment. But we’re going to get you off the peninsula, too, and pack as much as possible into the three days you have here.

Day One

The Eastern Promenade is easily accessible from downtown, and is a popular spot for locals.The Eastern Promenade is easily accessible from downtown, and is a popular spot for locals. murphman61

Start your first day at sunrise (trust us, it’s worth it!) on Munjoy Hill. The spot is located in the Eastern Promenade, and you’ll have the best vantage point for breathtaking views of Casco Bay, Fort Gorges out on Hog Island Ledge, and other nearby islands. The “Eastern Prom” offers a 2.1-mile paved and stone trail along the water that is perfect for running or biking, and also connects to the 3.6-mile Back Cove Loop if you want to add in more mileage.

After finishing your run back at the Eastern Prom, take a dip in the ocean at East End Beach, or bring your kayak or canoe and launch right off the beach or the boat ramp. (You can also rent a kayak or stand-up paddle board at the promenade.) Paddle around the bay, or go under Tukey’s Bridge to the calm Back Cove.

By now, everyone else will probably be awake, so make your way down the hill for coffee at Coffee by Design on India Street with some of the friendly locals. Committed to the environment, their partners in South America, and the community, the micro roaster offers up perfectly brewed flavored coffees (and single origin black coffee, too!) and tasty pastries like handmade donuts from The Holy Donut.

After a little breakfast, head over to the Casco Bay Lines’ terminal for a 20-minute ferry ride out to the biggest nearby island, Peaks Island. The first boat leaves at 5:45 am, and then every hour after that until the last boat at 11:30 pm. The schedule may vary, so check the ferry website.

You’ll need fuel for your upcoming adventure, so stock your backpack full of bread, cheese, meat, and delicious spreads from Rosemont Market or Standard Baking Co. before boarding the boat.

Once you do get out to the island, beeline it to Brad’s Island Bike Rentals & Repairs. Making your way around the island via pedal power is the best way to take in all in. You’ll find birds to watch, beaches to explore (check out the back shore), and Battery Steele, a fortification from World War Two. The Umbrella Cover Museum is a quirky little place featuring (you guessed it!) umbrella covers, and with a motto of “Celebrate the Mundane!”

Of course, paddling is almost always an option when you’re on an island, and the Maine Island Kayak Company is the place for rentals or guided tours. There are half-day and full-day options that are suitable for beginners or those with a little more experience, and your guide will take you out to “secret” areas that are tough to find on your own (think a lighthouse, a lagoon with starfish and lobsters, and more). If you have self-survival skills, they will rent you a kayak in the warmer months of July and August, but the tours are worth checking out.

It’s 100% okay to bring a boat beer for the ride back, so stop by Hannigan’s Island Market (about a three-minute walk from the ferry) for a wide selection of local brews. Sometimes you can even snag a seasonal beer that is sold out on the mainland!

Once you get back on the mainland, head over towards the Back Cove to the family-owned Rising Tide Brewing Company. Making small-batch beers with an “aim to create well-balanced beers that are inspired by old world traditions but with modern twists,” they offer tours and tastings throughout the week. You’ll also find a food truck there most days.

If you didn’t find something to snack on at Rising Tide, wrap up your day with dinner at The Thirsty Pig, serving up house-made sausages and local beer. With options ranging from a pork sausage with Thai chili sauce to a Lithuanian Kielbasa, this place is a must stop for good beer and food. You can even get vegan chili and vegan hot dogs for the non-meat eaters in your crew.

Where to Stay

Portland has several chain hotels, but for an authentic experience, look into a bed and breakfast. There are several in town, each with their own character. The Danforth Inn is just south of downtown, near the Casco Bridge, and is housed in the renovated Old Port Mansion. A few blocks away, the Inn at Park Spring is a little smaller with just five rooms in an old brick house dating back to 1835. A third option is the Inn at St. John, which is a little closer to a hotel than a B&B. With 39 rooms, it’s the oldest continuously operating Victorian inn (built in 1897).

Day Two

Founded in 1995, Allagash Brewing Company focuses on Belgian beers.Founded in 1995, Allagash Brewing Company focuses on Belgian beers. Allagash Brewing Company

After filling your first day around and on the water, we’re heading inland for day two. Before leaving the peninsula, though, fuel up at Tandem Coffee Roasters on Congress Street in the West End. The cafe is known for espresso and drip coffee, as well as muffins and mouth-watering cinnamon rolls.

A 30-minute drive from Tandem will get you to Pownal’s Bradbury Mountain State Park. The park is home to nine trails ranging from flat and easy to steep with sharp turns, all converging at Bradbury’s summit, with views of Casco Bay and Portland’s skyline on a clear day. The trails are short (the longest is 1.5 miles), but it’s easy to link them up for more mileage. All of them are open to foot traffic, but a few are open to mountain biking and horseback riding, so be aware of who might be coming up behind you.

After working up an appetite, drive just a half-mile back to Pownal Center to Edna and Lucy’s, a locally-owned cafe serving up a menu of quick bites like sandwiches, wraps, salads, and soups. The options change daily, but make sure that you save room for dessert—they have some of the best old-fashioned German donuts in the state!

Pownal is very rural compared to Portland, but it’s a mere five miles from downtown Freeport. This former sleepy village is now a busy retail outlet town, so Main Street offers all kinds of shopping for clothing, jewelry, and outdoor apparel. Turn off Main onto Bow Street and see what’s new in the local Toad&Co store while you’re in town.

After leaving downtown Freeport, point your GPS south towards Maine Beer Company on your way out of town. While Maine Beer Co. is all about their beer, they’re also a brewer with a conscience, committed to reducing, reusing, and recycling. Knowing that you’re supporting a company who cares about the environment might just make their Lunch IPA or Maine Peeper taste even better than they already do!

If you want to grab one more drink on your way back to Portland, stop by Allagash Brewing Company right off the Maine Turnpike. Allagash focuses on Belgian-inspired beers and is known for their flagship Belgian white. They offer 10 beers year-round, plus some limited editions, and a few brewed with spontaneous fermentation, a traditional Belgian method of cooling hot, unfermented wort overnight with outside air. They offer free tours and tastings daily (by reservation), just get there before they close at 6 pm!

Right across the street from Allagash is Foundation Brewing Company, with a core line of more traditional beers (an American IPA, a brown ale, etc.), but also unique flavors like the cherry Magnus and an apricot sour ale.

Once you get back to town, meander over to the other side of the city for pad thai or drunken noodles at Boda, then watch the sun set over the Western Promenade.

Day Three

There’s plenty to discover when hiking the trails in Portland. Terry CockburnThere’s plenty to discover when hiking the trails in Portland. Terry Cockburn

Spend your last day in Maine hitting the trails in Portland. Portland Trails, a nonprofit urban land trust, maintains the 70 miles devoted to hiking, walking, and mountain biking throughout Greater Portland. Visit the Presumpscot River Preserve, a 48-acre public preserve, for a tough 2.5-mile route through a ravine and wooded areas to the Presumpscot River. Another solid option is taking Andrews Avenue out to Mackworth Island, a legislated bird sanctuary. The 1.25-mile loop on Mackworth is relatively flat and follows the perimeter of the island. There are fantastic views of Casco Bay, and also a few side trails that lead down the steep slopes to the beach.

What better way to wrap up a Trail to Tavern weekend than with a trip on the environmentally friendly Maine Brew Bus? Rarely does a month pass without word that yet another brewery has opened, so the easiest way to hit some of the best spots is to hop aboard the bus and leave everything in the capable hands of your tour director and bus driver.

The company offers several different tour options, from the Southern Crawl through southern Portland to Breaking Brews (exploring the newest breweries) to the Curling and Brew Tour that throws in a trip to the Portland Ice Arena for some friendly competition before heading to two local breweries.

Before you leave town, we highly recommend taking your time to enjoy a family-style meal at Empire Chinese Kitchen in the heart of the city’s art district. Known for their dim sum (tasty Chinese dumplings filled with things like mushrooms, pork, and lobster), their extensive menu offers something for everyone, including vegetarians and vegans.

Right about now, you’ll begin to wonder how the last three days have flown by—and there’s still so much to see! The good news is that the friendly locals will welcome you back to the Portland of the East whenever you’re ready, but you’ll be planning your next trip in no time.

Originally written by RootsRated for Toad&Co.

Featured image provided by Allagash Brewing Company

The Ultimate Trail to Tavern 3-Day Weekend in Seattle

 

It’s hard to say what Seattleites love more: getting outside or drinking locally crafted beer. Luckily, in this Trail to Tavern® city, you don’t have to choose just one. With more than 40 breweries and tons of ways to get outside (hiking, trail running, cycling, and paddle boarding, to name a few), Seattle certainly has plenty of opportunities to squeeze in visits to both trails and taverns. Here’s our guide for how to make the most of your three-day weekend in the Emerald City.

Day One

Discovery Park is the largest public park in the city. Samantha LarsonDiscovery Park is the largest public park in the city. Samantha Larson.

Start your first day with a lap around one of Seattle’s most popular spots: Discovery Park. Whether you are driving up I-5 or coming in from the airport, take a detour to stop at Cherry Street Coffee House. There are 10 locations around Seattle, and each one has a unique store design. Grab a coffee or tea and a bagel (or housemade quiche!) and continue to the largest park in the city, covering more than 500 acres on a bluff overlooking the Puget Sound.

The 2.8-mile Discovery Park Loop (there’s also a four-mile option) weaves through forests and meadows, past sea cliffs and sandy beaches, while offering stellar views of Mount Rainier, the Olympic Mountains, and Puget Sound. With steep hills that are sure to get your heart pumping, running through Discovery Park is an equally delicious way to wake up as sipping on a handcrafted latte—and here in Seattle, that’s saying something.

If you’ve got some energy left, stop by for a quick session at Vertical World, America’s first climbing gym, which is about a mile to the east. Bring a towel, and you’ll be able to take a hot shower here before getting on with your day, too.

Grab a flight at the Pike Brewing Company.Grab a flight at the Pike Brewing Company. +Russ

From here, make your way downtown for lunch at another classic Seattle site: Pike’s Place Market. Jump in the long line to get a frappuccino from the original Starbucks and grab a sandwich, falafel, or hom bow from one of the outdoor food vendors. Don’t miss the famous fish throwing spectacle, then head over to the Pike Brewing Company for the 3 pm tour and tasting, where you’ll learn about the art of brewing and try out some samples. This family-owned establishment was founded in 1989 by Charles and Rose Ann Finkel, who dedicated themselves to brewing after falling in love with beer while traveling in Europe. From Belgian lambics to English ales, they wanted to bring these flavors back to the Pacific Northwest. The brewery really took off when they concocted the Pike IPA in 1990, which is still one of their most popular drinks.

After a tasting at Pike, spend some time exploring the market, the waterfront, and maybe take a ride or two on Seattle’s Great Wheel for picturesque views of the city and the Puget Sound.

Finish the night with dinner back at Pike’s Place Market at one of Seattle’s newest breweries, the Old Stove Brewing Co. Just because the brewery is the new kid in town, don’t think that Scott Barron, the head brewer, is a greenhorn: he came to Old Stove after stints at three other local breweries. If you like a bold tasting beer, try the Touch Too Much IPA (though we think it’s just the right amount of hops), or the Streaker Citra Ale for something a little lighter and brighter. Pair either option with a Fresh Dip sandwich and you’ll be set.

** Where to Stay**

Get some sleep in a uniquely Seattle abode by renting a houseboat or a sailboat on Airbnb. If you would rather stay on dry land, Hotel Max is a solid alternative—and they offer free craft beer during happy hour (what more could you ask for?).

Day Two

The route to Colchuck Lake makes for a wonderful day hike.The route to Colchuck Lake makes for a wonderful day hike. laffertyryan

For day two, get out of the city and into the wilderness by taking a trip to Leavenworth, a Bavarian-themed village nestled in the Central Cascades. But don’t be fooled by this quirky tourist town—it’s the gateway to some of Washington’s best outdoor adventures. At 2.5 hours away, it’s a bit of a drive from Seattle, but well worth it. Get an early start and book it to Pioneer Coffee Roasting Company along I-90 in North Bend for breakfast and cup of joe before continuing on.

Since you’ll likely want to eat lunch on-the-go, swing by family-owned Good Mood Food once you get to Leavenworth for snacks and a sandwich, and then let the adventure begin.

The Enchantments have been called an alpine paradise, and as soon as you find yourself surrounded by granite boulders and blue alpine lakes (maybe even mountain goats!), you’ll understand why. You could spend a lifetime exploring the area, but the eight-mile out-and-back hike to Colchuck Lake is a great option if you only have a day. You’ll hike through the forest and across several streams before tackling a series of switchbacks. After more than 2,000 feet of elevation gain, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of Dragontail Peak, Colchuck Peak, and the Colchuck Glacier.

Leavenworth is also home to one of the best climbing areas in the state, with a high concentration of sweet boulder problems, trad routes, and sport climbs. The Washington Climbers Coalition is an excellent resource for information on the climbing here.

After a day filled with adventure, stop by Leavenworth’s Icicle Brewing Company for a bite to eat and a drink before hitting the road. Try their Colchuck Raspberry Wheat, fermented with Willamette Valley raspberries, with a turkey sandwich or salad.

Once you get back to Seattle, celebrate the day with a cold one (or two!) from Two Beers Brewing Company in Seattle’s Industrial District. After spending several years perfecting the art of homebrewing from his kitchen, Joel VandenBrink decided to take the craft even further and founded the company in 2007. The brewery now produces almost 6,000 barrels every year. The Day Hike, a light and crisp lemony summer session ale, is the perfect way to top off the day’s activities.

Day Three

The Burke-Gilman Trail is part of 90 miles of biking trails in Seattle.The Burke-Gilman Trail is part of 90 miles of biking trails in Seattle. Seattle Parks

Ease into day three with brunch in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. A good place to start is with a Belgian-style street waffle with sweet or savory toppings from Sweet Iron Waffles or a traditional Syrian breakfast at Mamnoon. Then grab a bike from a local rental shop and head north for a leisurely ride along the Burke-Gilman Trail, a paved bike path that hugs the shores of Lake Washington, Lake Union, and the Ship Canal. The greenery lining the trail is, in part, thanks to the tree-planting efforts of organizations like the local conservation group Forterra.

Check out the salmon ladder at the Ballard Locks as you ride to the end of the Burke to Golden Gardens, a beach on Puget Sound with magnificent views of the Olympic Mountains on a clear day. Rent a paddleboard or kayak and take the easy, two-mile trip out to the Discovery Park Lighthouse. (Keep your eyes peeled for jellyfish below and seals frolicking in the water around you!)

The Burke also offers excellent access to some of the best breweries in town, so get ready for a little brewery hopping on the return trip as you wrap up your weekend in Seattle. Stoup Brewing is the product of a scientist and self-proclaimed beer geek, with a goal to brew the best beer scientifically possible. Just a block away is Reuben’s Brews, whose beers have won awards both nationally and internationally. If you order a pie from Zeeks or Ballard Pizza, you will not only get a discount, but you can also take it into Reuben’s with you.

The family-owned Maritime Pacific Brewing Company’s seafaring theme and traditional recipes are a hat-tip to the Ballard neighborhood’s roots as a fishing town. Try the Old Seattle Lager, made with Cascade hops, or the Flagship Red, both available year round. And just a little farther away is Hale’s Ales Brewery & Pub and the Fremont Brewing Company.

Did we mention that Seattle has a lot of breweries?

But don’t worry about hitting them all in this trip—you need a reason to start planning your next visit, right?

Originally written by RootsRated for Toad&Co.

Featured image provided by David Herrera

The Ultimate Trail to Tavern 3-Day Weekend in Austin

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Known for its live music, tacos, and outdoor recreation, Austin does many things well. On a nice day, which is pretty standard in Texas Hill Country, Austinites know how to spend a full day that’s equal parts exploration, exertion, discovery and indulgence.

Austin has countless options for ways to spend your days in the outdoors, be it on trails or patios, but do as the locals do and opt for both. Here’s our three-day itinerary pairing the best of Austin’s trails and taverns. Live like a local for a weekend, and even get out of town for a day. Either way, you really can’t go wrong in Austin.

Day One

The boutique Heywood Hotel is within walking distance to restaurants, shops, and nightlife.The boutique Heywood Hotel is within walking distance to restaurants, shops, and nightlife. vjlawson2001

No visit to Austin is complete without a visit to one of its many greenbelts. Kick off your trip at Barton Creek Greenbelt — 13 miles of winding trails along Barton Creek, through lush green forest, over protruding root systems and past red rock walls. If you’re visiting in hotter months, start your day early to avoid the heat that comes with a Texas Summer.

Pick up the trail at Twin Falls for a particularly great hike now that Barton Creek is once again flowing. The trailhead is at 360 and Mopac, just a couple miles from downtown, with a parking lot for easy accessibility. The trailhead lies at mile 4.75 of Barton Creek Greenbelt, with Twin Falls just a half mile down trail. You can also get to Sculpture Falls at mile 6.25. This is an out-and-back hike, so take on as much (or as little) distance as you’d like, though we recommend visiting both falls before turning back.

Once you’ve gotten your trail fix, an old school Austin establishment called Dry Creek Cafe & Boat Dock is calling your name. The cash-only bar has neither a boat dock nor a cafe, but it’s full of old Austin charm, characters, cheap beers, and a good ol’ country jukebox. The best part? The patio overlooking Austin’s Mount Bonnell.

As for dinner, head past Mount Bonnell (a great place to watch the sunset), before stopping by Laguna Gloria and Mayfield Park to see the beautiful live oak trees, peacocks, and gardens that are on the grounds. Then, grab a seat at nearby Draught House Pub & Brewery, showcasing a vast selection of local Austin brews and the city’s best food trucks, including Best Wurst on Mondays and Quality Seafood on Tuesdays. Insider’s tip: There are free brats every Saturday at 4 p.m.

When you’re ready to call it a night, get cozy at one of Austin’s most quaint local hotels: Heywood Hotel. Located on Cesar Chavez on Austin’s East Side, staying at Heywood gives you the opportunity to explore a different side of Austin before and after your daily field trips (if you feel so inclined). Boutique indeed, the hotel has just seven rooms in an old house that pair old Austin bungalow charm with minimalistic, but still well-dressed touches like artwork by local artists. And, it’s within walking distance of some of Austin’s most celebrated businesses.

Day Two

Breakfast at Mi Madre’s is a must.Breakfast at Mi Madre’s is a must. Matthew C. Wright

Today you’ll take advantage of one of Austin’s many waterways and partake in an old-school tradition: a trip down the Lower Colorado River. Whether you prefer a canoe or a kayak, you can rent one from Cook’s Canoes, an old-fashioned canoe livery situated on the Lower Colorado in Webberville, Texas, about 25 minutes east of Austin.

But first, breakfast tacos. Since you’re staying on the East Side, head to Mi Madre’s Restaurant** **on Manor Road for some of the best breakfast tacos in the city, all served on housemade tortillas. We recommend going a la carte, so take your pick and fuel up for a day on the water. You can’t go wrong with a #6 (potato and egg) or a #15 (carnitas, avocado, and cilantro).

From there, you’ll head toward Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, which becomes FM 969 before arriving in Webberville at the livery. Like the days of yore, the old men who run the livery will load you into a yellow school bus, take you up river and let you paddle your way back. Opt for the 7 or 11-mile route that’ll give you a quiet, easy ride down a wide section of river, hugged by giant trees, green shoreline, and the occasional sand bar that makes for a good breaking point.

When you make it back to the landing point, swing by Live Oak Brewery in nearby Del Valle, which is about a twenty-minute ride back toward Austin. Find a seat within the rows of picnic tables under the live oaks and kick back with a house-made beer. They’ve got everything ranging from year-round, seasonal, and limited edition beers. Live Oak Brewery also hosts local food trucks so you’ll have the opportunity to sample some of Austin’s most well-known mobile cuisines. And, if you feel up for another brewery,Zilker Brewing Company is just a few blocks from Heywood Hotel and offers some of the best locally made beer in some of the best-designed cans.

Day Three, In-Town Option

The spring-fed Barton Springs are an Austin hot spot on a warm day.The spring-fed Barton Springs are an Austin hot spot on a warm day. Lars Plougmann

Before embarking on the day’s adventure, swing by Austin’s acclaimed Mozart’s Coffee Roasters on Lake Austin Boulevard. The long-time Austin establishment has one of the best patios in the city, incredible house-made coffee, and a wide selection of muffins, pastries and cheesecakes, always made in house.

From there, you’ll take on a section of trail in the heart of Austin. Ten miles of hiking and biking trails, known as the Ann and Roy Butler Trails, course through downtown Austin, edging along Lady Bird Lake and connecting Austin landmarks the entire way. Hop on the trail on the south side of the South 1st Bridge, heading west toward** **Zilker Park. This lakeside section is incredibly lush, shaded by giant trees, and runs parallel to some of Austin’s famous Barton Springs Road restaurants and bars.

Enjoy a leisurely two-mile walk along the lake to Zilker Park. Once arriving at the park, you can throw a blanket down and soak up the sun, toss a frisbee, or take a dip in the spring-fed Barton Springs , which is one of Austin’s most famous landmarks.

In the afternoon, head over to Rainey Street, which is one of Austin’s most celebrated neighborhoods. Once a residential neighborhood, the street is now a charming strip of old houses turned bars and restaurants. Grab an outdoor table at Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden, which has one of the best patios in the city and is a great place to cozy up after a day spent outdoors. Banger’s specializes in authentic German sausages and pints on pints on pints.

Day Three, Out-of-Town Option

The Jester King Brewery is well known for it’s sour beers.The Jester King Brewery is well known for it’s sour beers. Jester King Brewery

While Austin has much to offer within its city limits, locals frequent parks and waterside escapes outside the city, too. After all, Texas Hill Country is famous for its swimming holes. A local favorite is Krause Springs, which is about 40 minutes outside of town in Spicewood, Texas. Since you’ll be heading outside of town, plan to leave Austin in the morning and to spend high noon at the springs.

As you enter the 115-acre plot of land, you’re first greeted with a butterfly garden that just begs for a stroll. The property is registered on the National Register of Historic Places, so the entire place has a quirky vibe. There are 32 individual springs to enjoy, and you’ll find locals sprawled out on towels, swimming, and enjoying the shade of the towering cypress trees. Find real estate on one of the giant, water-smoothed rocks, lay out a towels and some snacks and let the day float by.

Head back toward Austin before sunset, but first stopping by Jester King Brewery for one of the brewery’s famous sour beers. Rows of picnic tables are lined up beneath gnarly live oak trees with antique chandeliers hanging from their curly limbs. Kick back in the shade of the tree and prepare for a wild sunset over the country horizon. As for dinner, order a salad and made-from-scratch pizza from Stanley’s Farmhouse Pizza, which shares the property with Jester King. And, perhaps, opt for another round of sour brews. Note: Both Jester King Brewery & Stanley’s Farmhouse Pizza are *only *open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

If you find yourself up for one last nightcap, we suggest a rendezvous at Whisler’s. Also on East 6th, the eccentric bar features a fantastic backyard, creative cocktails and an interesting atmosphere… antique mirrors, an old bathtub, and a mezcal bar upstairs. But be forewarned: The oranges are dusted with crushed crickets *not *sugar. We speak from experience.

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Originally written by RootsRated for Toad&Co.

Featured image provided by Johannes Schneemann

Epic Trails to Epic Taverns

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If you’ve been following our Trail to Tavern series, you now have dozens of ideas for exciting days on the trail, paired with unique and convenient pubs. We’ve covered a variety of major cities like San Francisco and Chicago, as well as our original hometown of Telluride, Colorado. But it’s also nice to dream once in awhile, so here we’ve collected a few epic trails paired with epic taverns.

First, let’s define epic, because the word can certainly be over-used. In this case, we’re concerning ourselves with very long or very difficult trails, and the unique restaurants and bars near them. We’ve asked our friends at RootsRated for a few domestic as well as a few more exotic trails for you. While these trail to tavern duos may not be quite as easily-accessible as the previous pairings, we hope these give you a few additions to your adventure travel wish list.

The Doyle Hotel on the Appalachian Trail

Why not start with any long-distance hiker’s ultimate bucket-list item, an Appalachian Trail thru-hike? We’re assuming you’re familiar with the AT, but RootsRated editor Ry Glover offers a colorful account of his AT thru-hike that’s worth a read. Hikers have two major decisions to make before beginning: whether to start in the North or South, and whether to go for speed or relax and enjoy all the side trips and towns you’ll find along the way. Answers to both of these questions may ultimately be dictated by your budget and timeline, but no matter how you choose to enjoy the trail, you shouldn’t miss the Doyle Hotel.


Gerry Dincher (mods made)

Located in Duncannon, Pennsylvania, where Susquehanna and Juniata rivers come together, the Doyle has a reputation for being hiker-friendly. In fact, Glover includes this spot as one of the seven places where AT thru-hikers must stop. His description says it all: “It’s legendary. Run by one of the friendliest couples you’ll ever meet, the building is ancient with a lot of character, the food is greasy with a lot of calories, and the beer is plentiful with a lot of, er, drinkability. This is a hotel that was originally built in the 1770’s and where Charles Dickens once stayed, so while you’re sipping your Yuengling (be sure to call it a ‘lager’), try to appreciate this place for what it’s become: a weary, old building where weary, old hikers can come together and collectively find a little life and rejuvenation.”

Tour de Mont Blanc + Poco Loco in Chamonix, France

Now let’s head a little farther afield, to France. The Tour de Mont Blanc seems consciously designed for those of us who want to take this “trail to tavern” idea to the next level. In fact, our writer Matt Guenther cites the food along the way as one of the top reasons to hike this route. There are more than 50 places to stop along the way, so no matter what pace you choose to hike this 105-mile circuit of Mont Blanc, you’ll always have a convenient resting point.

Matt Guenther
Matt Guenther

Since we’re choosing one place to feature, Poco Loco in Chamonix takes top honors. Guenther said that he returned to this place, known for its generous and delicious hamburgers, a few times during his trip. It might be surprising to hear us recommend a burger place that sounds more like a Mexican joint in France, but Tripadvisor reviewers agree; this is the #1 restaurant out of 174 restaurants in this little ski town. The tiny restaurant serves affordable burgers and fries, and has great vegetarian options as well.

Hiking Telescope Peak in Death Valley + Beer at Panamint Springs Resort

Seasoned hikers know that the desert often holds amazing surprises–from unexpected oases teeming with life to once-in-a-decade superblooms when the desert explodes with color and life. One of the most rewarding hikes in the desert southwest takes hikers through several ecosystems and up to the highest point in Death Valley.

Telescope Peak towers above Death Valley National Park
Telescope Peak towers above Death Valley National Park. Rob Hannawacker.

Hiking to the top of Telescope Peak in Death Valley National Park yields amazing panoramic views and a sense of accomplishment after seven difficult, uphill trail miles. You’ll gain 11,300 feet from the desert floor to the highest point in the park. This very remote hike in an already remote park will take you off the grid. You’ll pass landmarks like the historic charcoal kilns and Arcane Meadows, where Death Valley got its name. According to William L. Manly’s book about his party of 49ers traveling west in the California gold rush, “ours were the first visible footsteps, and we the party which named it the saddest and most dreadful name that came to us first from its memories.” After struggling through weeks of being lost and hungry in the Great Basin and Death Valley, one of the women in the party turned back over her shoulder and said, “goodbye Death Valley.”

Luckily, the return trip is all downhill, and today’s visitors to this forbidding wilderness have a man-made oasis in the form of a bar, motel and cabins right outside the park. Well stocked with what our writer Krista Diamond calls an “incomprehensibly massive beer selection,” and providing a place to stay and refuel, you’ll find the Panamint Springs Resort on highway 190 on the way back out of the park if you’re headed west.

Rainbow Rim Trail + Roughrider Saloon

We have to throw one in for the mountain bikers, and this one’s truly epic. As part of Kaibab National Forest, this trail operates under different management from the neighboring National Park lands. As a result, unlike all other trails along Grand Canyon’s massive rim, the Rainbow Rim Trail allows mountain bikes. While avoiding the crowds and tour buses, you’ll get spectacular panoramic views into the canyon. The higher elevation of the Kaibab plateau makes this North Rim trail relatively more wooded and full of wildlife compared to the more-visited South Rim. The most difficult part of this adventure? Attempting to balance your workout with the constant temptation to pull over and take yet another photograph of the stunning views into the canyon.


FX Gagnon/Alta Expedition

End your day’s adventure with drinks at the Roughrider Saloon. Absorb some of the Teddy Roosevelt stories and learn how this game preserve eventually became a national park, or just get your cocktail to go (they actually do that). Just a few steps away, you’ll find beautiful sunset views over the canyon. It’s worth noting that the Saloon also serves coffee and basic breakfast fare in the morning.

Echo Summit to Donner Pass (PCT) + High Camp at Squaw Valley

You’ll get extra credit on this hike, after which you’ll have experience with two iconic trails: the Pacific Coast Trail (PCT) and the Tahoe Rim Trail. The 64-mile section from Echo Summit to Donner Pass will take backpackers about six or seven days depending on pace. Since the trail has snow cover in winter, we recommend a spring or fall hike. As RootsRated writer Jill Sanford explains, “epic granite slopes and sparkling alpine lakes make this 64 mile stretch of the PCT between Echo Summit and Donner Pass one for the record books.”

Donner Pass Summit on the PCT in California
Donner Pass Summit on the PCT in California. Bruce C. Cooper.

For the “tavern” part of this pairing, you won’t want to miss High Camp at Squaw Valley resort, where you can rest and enjoy a dip in their hot tub. Order a craft beer or a cocktail and enjoy the view provided by the 8,200’ elevation. You’ll definitely be paying resort prices, but it’s worth it for the location. Visitors who aren’t doing the backpacking route can also pay for a gondola ride up to High Camp, and go for an out-and-back day hike. In fact, all of the trails listed here would make for great day hikes as well.

Originally written by RootsRated for Toad&Co. Featured image provided by Matt Guenther.

How to Have an Awesome Microbrew Tour in Jackson County

Innovation Brewery

 

Loaded with more microbreweries than any other southeastern state, North Carolina is rightfully recognized as one of the country’s booming bastions of craft beer. While Asheville’s heavily concentrated collection of microbreweries may have made the town North Carolina’s capital of craft beer, one of the state’s most singular beer trails is just west of the city, in mountain-rippled, stream-laced Jackson County.

Jackson County features an eclectic trio of breweries around Sylva.
Jackson County features an eclectic trio of breweries around Sylva. Photo Courtesy of JCTDA.

The Jackson County Ale Trail makes for a compact, craft-brew loaded pub crawl. The scenic, mile-long route winds through picturesque Sylva, showcasing the town’s closely concentrated but eclectic trio of breweries—including Heinzelmännchen Brewing, Innovation Brewing, and the newly opened Sneak E Squirrel. The trail’s taprooms serve everything from time-tested classic ales, to outdoor-inspired seasonal brews, to experimental flavor fusions with limited release, guaranteeing Sylva’s collection of craft breweries will proffer a pints sure to satisfy even the pickiest palates.

The ale trail’s first stop is the Sneak E Squirrel, the most recent arrival to Sylva’s craft brewing scene, opening last year in a creatively repurposed car dealership. The tap list at the newly minted microbrewery is largely driven by inspired interpretations of classic European-style ales, punctuated with inventive fusions like the Pepper Squirrel Habanero IPA.

The Sneak E Squirrel features creative interpretations on classic European-style ales.
The Sneak E Squirrel features creative interpretations on classic European-style ales. JCTDA.

The Sneak E Squirrel’s breadth of beers includes options like the 221 Sneak E, a traditional English bitter; the Clockwork Zombie, a Belgian wit style beer infused with hints of cherry and pomegranate; and the full-bodied Parrot Porter. The whimsical hangout includes barroom treasures like billiards and ping pong, and you’ll find the place scattered with assorted board games, including rarities like Star Trek Catan. The brewery also dishes up an imaginative menu, with elevated munchies like fried green tomatoes and truffle fries. Specials include the likes of Riblettes served with Bananas Foster and playful plates like the Pork Belly BLT and the Fat Elvis—a sandwich loaded with bacon, peanut butter and fried bananas. Best of all, the menu even includes suggested beer pairings for every dish.

For artsy ale enthusiasts, the Sneak E Squirrel is also the perfect place to pick up an original work. The brewery showcases the work of local artists—offering an array of unique pieces for sale, with displays changing every two weeks to highlight different contributors.

After the Sneak E Squirrel, mosey along to the Heinzelmännchen Brewery in downtown Sylva, the second stop on the ale trail, and the town’s longest-standing microbrewery. Heinzelmännchen’s German-born brewmaster Dieter Kuhn has been crafting Bavarian-inspired beers at the location since 2004, alongside his wife and brewery co-owner Sheryl Rudd.

Heinzelmännchen is Sylva's oldest microbrewery.
Heinzelmannchen is Sylva’s oldest microbrewery. Photo Courtesy of JCTDA.

The brewery’s cozy and casual taproom serves well-rounded collection of ales, with offerings like the Ancient Days Honey Blonde Ale, a crisp, pilsner-style beer infused with locally harvested honey; the rich Black Forest Stout, flavored with notes of roasted coffee and caramel; or the hearty but highly drinkable Middleworld Brown Ale, with a flavor profile distinguished with slight traces of toffee.

Heinzelmännchen’s beers can also be interspersed with samples of the brewery’s nostalgia- inducing offerings—non-alcoholic root beer and autumn red birch beer, also available both by half-gallon or the keg. To round out the authentic Bavarian beer hall experience, the brewery offers locally made soft pretzels served with Asheville-produced Lusty Monk mustard.

Behind the scenes at Innovation Brewing.
Behind the scenes at Innovation Brewing. Photo Courtesy of JCTDA.

Finally, cap off the Jackson County brewery crawl at the ale trail’s third stop, Innovation Brewing. Boasting the lengthiest beer list of Sylva’s three breweries, Innovation Brewing has more than 30 different options on tap, pouring everything from beloved year-round mainstay brews to experimental ales and rotating seasonal options. The extensive beer selection at the three-year-old brewery includes constants like the Afternoon Delight Blonde Ale, the Hoppy Camper IPA, and the Nitro Irish Stout, mingled with rarities and seasonal brews like the Nitro Coffee Blonde, the Orange Berlinerweiss, and the Beet and Basil Pale Ale.

Aside from the beers, the beloved Sylva-based food truck Cosmic Carryout is also reliably anchored in the brewery’s outdoor beer garden on a daily basis. The laidback location also regularly hosts live music, featuring shows on Saturday nights. Earlier this year, the environmentally conscious brewery also took an ambitious step to reduce the location’s energy footprint by mounting 100 solar panels on the location’s rooftop.

Originally written by RootsRated for Jackson County Tourism Development Authority. Featured image provided by Nick Breedlove.

The Best Trail to Tavern Pairings in North Carolina

North Carolina Highland Brewing Company

 

Nothing pairs better with an exhilarating outdoor adventure than an inspired microbrew. Fortunately, for outdoor-loving connoisseurs of craft beer, North Carolina is not only laced with majestic mountains, pristine rivers, and massive national forests, the state is also loaded with some of the best breweries in the country. When your day of adventure has wrapped up, there are plenty of inspired brews waiting to be discovered.

Paddling in the Nantahala River Gorge.Paddling in the Nantahala River Gorge. anoldent.

Begin in Bryson City. This town is wedged between the Nantahala National Forest and Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the western corner of the state. Start at the Nantahala River Gorge, one of country’s premier paddling destinations for paddlers of all levels. Framed by deep forests and craggy canyon walls, the run is largely a Class I & II paddle, capped off with a chute down a Class III cascade. Not sure about whitewater? Grab an SUP and hit Fontana Lake instead. Rather stick to terra firma instead? Trade paddle for pedal on the 40 miles of singletrack ringing the massive lake at Nantahala National Forest’s Tsali Recreation Area. Cap off the day with outdoor inspired brews like Apple Trail Extra Pale Ale, Up River Amber, or the seasonal Hellbender Hefeweizen at Bryson City’s aptly named Nantahaha Brewing Company, located in a restored 76-year-old industrial warehouse.

Triple Falls in the DuPont State Forest.Triple Falls in the DuPont State Forest. Adam Fagen.

Next, head east to mountainous Sylva, a town loaded with both outdoor adventures and craft breweries. Get a hawk’s eye view of town from the Pinnacle, accessible after a 3.5-mile uphill hike through 1,000-acre Pinnacle Park. Or try your hand at one of the town’s premier pastimes, trout fishing. Several of the hotspots along the Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Trail are just minutes from downtown Sylva, including Scott’s Creek and the Tuckasegee River.

In the evening, peruse the the town’s eclectic trio of breweries. Innovation Brewing is loaded with creative fusions like the Beet & Basil Pale Ale, the Apple Butter Brown, and the Chardonnay Barrel Aged Saison. A resident foodtruck, Cosmic Carryout, uses Innovation as its home base. The German-inspired Heinzelmannchen Brewery features ales like the Black Forest Stout and the Weiss Gnome Hefeweizen, both which pair perfectly with freshly made soft pretzels. And the whimsical Sneak E Squirrel offers artful brews like A Clockwork Zombie pomegranate, cherry-infused Belgian Wit, and Cherry Vanilla Stout.

Make the short southward hop to Franklin and hit the trail. Both the Appalachian and multi-state Bartram trails ramble past the town, bestowing panoramic views from the summit of 5,347-foot Wayah Bald, named for the region’s once thriving red wolf population. Afterward, head to Lazy Hiker Brewing to mingle with thru-hikers and plan your next adventure while sipping trail-worthy beers like the Slack Pack IPA or the Trail Mate Golden Ale.

Make the half-hour trip from Franklin to Highlands and begin by exploring the ruggedly wild swath of Nantahala Forest known as Panthertown Valley, named for the iconic big cats that once roamed the wilderness. After Panthertown, try a flavorful flight at Satulah Mountain Brewing Company in Highlands, pouring everything from lighter options like Helles Ridge Lager, fruity ales like Lakeside Hoppy Saison, and dark beers like Smokey Mountain Porter.

Paddling the French Broad River near the Biltmore.Paddling the French Broad River near the Biltmore. anoldent.

From Highlands head for Brevard, in the heart of Transylvania County. This area has been dubbed North Carolina’s “Land of Waterfalls” for the 250 different cascades adorning the area’s extensive wilderness. Begin by seeking out iconic destinations like 120-foot Triple Falls or 150-foot High Falls in the DuPont State Recreational Forest. After a day spent chasing cascades head to another local institution, the Brevard Brewing Company, the county’s first brewery. Lagers are the brewery’s specialty, with options like Bohemian Pilsner, crisp American Wheat, and the seasonal Octoberfest Lager.

Next, head for America’s mecca of microbrew, Asheville. Breweries seem to abound around every corner in town. Luckily, adventure is just as plentiful. Wander the 10 miles of trails at the massive North Carolina Arboretum, framed by the Pisgah National Forest. Or explore another of Asheville’s iconic locations, the Biltmore Estate, George Vanderbilt’s opulent, 19th century escape. Hit the water on the French Broad River with a 7-mile paddling trip through the heart of the city.

The Clawhammer from the Highland Brewing Company.The Clawhammer from the Highland Brewing Company. Gary Peeples/USFWS.

It is difficult not to stumble upon a stellar microbrewery in Asheville but first-timers paralyzed by the wealth of options can begin at long-standing institutions like Highland Brewing Company, beer-town’s very first microbrewery, famous for pouring hearty, European-inspired ales. Or head to Green Man, another of the town’s long-standing breweries, serving beers with a Blue Ridge backdrop from the open air taproom. Or try a uniquely Asheville locale like Wedge, lodged in a 19th century warehouse in the city’s River Arts District and a hub for a fleet of local food trucks. Wicked Weed Brewing’s Funkatorium is the very first tasting room dedicated solely to sour and other funky brews on the entire East coast.

Asheville's Wedge Brewing is located in a 19th century warehouse.Asheville’s Wedge Brewing is located in a 19th century warehouse. TimothyJ.

After Asheville, cruise north to the quintessential Appalachian town of Boone. Explore the high country’s diversity of landscapes on the rugged, 5-mile Boone Fork Trail, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Julian Price Memorial Park. Then sidle up to the creekside bar at Appalachian Mountain Brewing and sample flavorful fusions like the dry-hopped cider mimosa or the C.R.E.A.M Coffee and Donut Infused Milk Stout. Afterwards, wander over to Lost Province and sip on beers like the Balsam Blonde Ale or Leaf Peeper Oktoberfest while noshing on the brewery’s wood-fired pizza.

An iconic view at Pilot Mountain State Park.An iconic view at Pilot Mountain State Park. suttonls.

Finally, round out the trip in Winston-Salem. But first, head for Pilot Mountain State Park. Explore the network of trails ringing the park’s iconic landmark, Pilot Mountain, a 2,000 foot peak capped off with a tufty plug of rock. Or explore the recreation area from the water along a forested stretch of the Yadkin River. When you are ready to hit the town, head to the tasting room at Foothills Brewing. There are a whopping 28 different beers on tap, including distinctive offerings like Carolina Strawberry, Dead and Berried Barrel Aged Blackberry Imperial Stout, and Frostbite Black IPA. Aside from the diversity of brews, the taproom also draws a rotating array of food trucks, slinging everything from tacos to gelato.

Originally written by RootsRated for Visit North Carolina. Featured image provided by Gary Peeples/USFWS.

The Best Trail to Tavern Pairings Near Seattle

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For many Seattleites—and many outdoorsy types in general, for that matter—the words hiking and beer go hand in hand and are often mentioned in the same sentence. Luckily, Washington has no shortage of either hikes or of brews—and there are ample opportunities to combine them. Any day spent going from a mountain summit with a 360-degree view, gushing waterfalls in the midst of old growth forests, or pristine alpine lakes surrounded by steep granite towers to a delicious craft pilsner, porter, or IPA is guaranteed to be a good one.

Here, our recommendations for the best hike and beer pairings in Washington, from Mount Si to the Snoqualmie Brewery, from the Enchantments to the Icicle Brewing Company, and more.

1. Mount Si | Snoqualmie Brewery

The hike up Mount Si is a Seattle-area classic.The hike up Mount Si is a Seattle-area classic. J Brew.

Visited by more than 100,000 people every year, Mount Si is a classic trek that’s on the must-do list of nearly every Seattle-area hiker. But don’t let its popularity fool you into thinking this is an easy jaunt: Adventurers come to Si for the challenge. Ascending more than 3,000 feet in just under four miles, the trail steadily winds up switchbacks to the amazing views from the summit that look out at the I-90 corridor, the Olympics, and Seattle.

Reaching the top of Si not only merits some serious bragging rights, but it also warrants some downtime to rest your weary legs while sipping on a cold one when you wrap up the trek. There is no better place to do so than the Snoqualmie Brewery. The taproom and restaurant is located just a few miles from the trailhead, with a menu that features more than a dozen year-round and seasonal beers brewed in house. Don’t leave without sampling the Haystack Hefeweizen, which was named for the rock formation that marks Mount Si’s true summit.

 2. Rattlesnake Ledge | The Growler Station

Rattlesnake Ledge is a great spot to sit back and take in the view with a brew.Rattlesnake Ledge is a great spot to sit back and take in the view with a brew. Samantha Larson.

A few miles farther east from Mount Si, Rattlesnake Ledge is another great hike in Snoqualmie Valley. The trail climbs for two miles alongside sword ferns beneath a canopy of evergreen trees adorned in tufts of lichens and moss, until it reaches a rock ledge on the east ridge of Rattlesnake Mountain.

The ledge looks out onto Rattlesnake Lake and the Issaquah Alps, the kind of vista that you’ll want to be able to sit back and soak up for a good while. And, of course, even the best views are taken to new heights with a brew in hand. Which is why you should stop at The Growler Station before hitting the trail, so you can bring something to drink to the top with you. Located on the way to the trailhead in North Bend, the Growler Station serves craft beers on the go from places like Schooner Exact Brewing, Black Raven Brewing Co., and Counterbalance Brewing Co. Once you reach the top, reward yourself with a few congratulatory sips at the summit—but don’t take so many that making your way back down turns into a misadventure.

3. Wallace Falls | The Prospector

The Prospector, in the town of Gold Bar, offers a relaxed atmosphere for beers and grub after a good hike. The Prospector, in the town of Gold Bar, offers a relaxed atmosphere for beers and grub after a good hike. Samantha Larson.

Wallace Falls is a beautiful, accessible hike almost literally gushing with rewards along the way, thanks to the cascading waterfalls along the route. After traveling along the banks of the babbling Wallace River, the trail then veers away as it climbs to the lower falls, then middle, then upper falls, which are located 2.8 miles from the trailhead. The water bursts down rock tiers into bowls below, with delicate mists rising up along either side.

The Prospector, located in the town of Gold Bar less than two miles from the trailhead, is a great spot to grab a beer and some grub at the end of the journey. This tavern is quintessential Washington, yet unlike anything you’re likely to come across in Seattle. It has fun, low-key vibe, hearty burgers and steaks on the menu, and a selection of beers on tap to help wash it all down.

4. Snow Lakes | The Icicle Brewing Company

Bottoms up!Bottoms up! Courtesy of Icicle Brewing Company.

Hiking to Snow Lakes in a day certainly warrants a treat afterward. Preferably, in the form of a delicious, crisp adult beverage that was brewed at the Icicle Brewing Company , just outside The Enchantments in Leavenworth. This brewery embodies Washington pride as much as it does the town’s quirky Bavarian theme, with the names of beers reflecting the state’s landscapes and history, such as the Crosscut Pilsner, Bootjack IPA, and Colchuck Raspberry Wheat.

5. Boulder River Trail | River Time Brewing

The Boulder River Trail is a great warmup for spending some quality time at River Time Brewing. The Boulder River Trail is a great warmup for spending some quality time at River Time Brewing. Samantha Larson.

The Boulder River Trail combines two of Washington hikers’ favorites: old-growth forests and waterfalls. This 8.6-mile round-trip trek follows along the Boulder River and is relatively flat, making it a nice break from so many of the other local trails that involve steep climbs. After beginning on an old logging road, the path narrows to a trail and, about a mile from the trailhead, brings you to a double waterfall surrounded by colorful monkey flower. Continuing on, you will travel deeper into the Boulder River Wilderness where you will see more and and more grand, old-growth trees.

But an essential ingredient for a truly good day on the trail is—you guessed it—beer. That’s where River Time Brewing comes in. Less than 10 miles away from the Boulder River trailhead, just south of the town of Darrington, this taphouse on the banks of the Sauk River is a wonderful place to sit outside and relax on a sunny day. The brewhouse, in Darrington’s old City Hall building, has a fun and friendly vibe and, of course, mouthwatering craft brews.

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Originally written by RootsRated. Featured image provided by Samantha Larson

The Best Trail to Tavern Pairings in Los Angeles

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What can you say about LA? It’s a true global city. A mecca and a melting pot of all things art, history, culture, commerce, sports, celebrities, and yes, even the great outdoors. While it may never be known primarily for its outdoor possibilities, it does in fact have some stunning beaches, tons of fantastic hiking trails, and a number of high peaks that ring the L.A. basin. And with an essentially endless amount of restaurants and bars spread out among its conglomerate of suburbs, you really can get the best of both worlds when it comes to wilderness and watering holes. Here’s your guide to some of the best trail to tavern pairings in Los Angeles and beyond.

1. Hollywood Sign | Frolic Room

Since the 30's, the Frolic Room has been a mainstay along Hollywood Boulevard
Since the 30’s, the Frolic Room has been a mainstay along Hollywood Boulevard. Todd Sternisha.

Situated in Griffith Park—one of the largest urban parks in North America—the Hollywood Sign Hike is about as iconic as it gets. Images of the Hollywood sign—which originally read ‘Hollywoodland’ back in the 1920’s—are well-known across the world. The sign is located just above the Hollywood Hills, and there are numerous routes that take you to this historic spot. The route from the Griffith Observatory to the Hollywood Sign is perhaps the best. At 7 miles roundtrip, it’s a little long for some, but the trails aren’t very technical, and the sweeping views of the city will make you forget about the distance.

After the quick elevation gain and sweeping view of the city, you’ll likely want to follow a staple with a staple. So, head to the Frolic Room—a down-to-earth dive bar with cheap beer and free popcorn. Located on Hollywood Boulevard, this historic bar has been around since the 1930’s when it was rumored to be a speakeasy during the days of prohibition. There’s no telling how many famous patrons have entered its doors over the last 80 years, but as soon as you enter, you can sense you’re in a special place—a type of place where you wish the walls could talk. Maybe the best part about the Frolic Room is that basically nothing has changed (and that’s rare for L.A.). It’s just as it was back in its speakeasy days.

2. Escondido Falls | Neptune’s Net

Relaxing at Escondido Falls
Relaxing at Escondido Falls. Eric Chan.

Even with El Nińo, the waterfalls at Escondido have remained but a trickle. But that doesn’t mean the trail is lacking in interesting features. You’ll pass alongside bursting pepper trees and deliciously cell-reception-free periods. Dogs are allowed on-leash, and the area brings out anything from Tea Cup Poodles being toted in purses, to towering Great Danes panting and slobbering their way up the trail. The best part about this hike is the proximity to the Pacific Coast Highway. After being closed for much of 2015 due to a landslide, the cruise-ability of this stretch of iconic highway lends itself perfectly to a quick trip up to Neptune’s Net —a legendary roadside restaurant with burgers, beers, and of course the freshest catches of the day. Known as the spot where Tyler from the film Point Break slung burgers, this motorcycle hangout, deli-food-joint-hybrid is a must. Grab a beer from the cooler doors, claim a picnic table outside, and see if anyone’s scoring waves at County Line across the street.

3. Arroyo Verde | Topa Topa Brewing Co.

The rolling hills of Arroyo Verde Park offer the perfect place to enjoy a nice stroll above the Pacific Ocean
The rolling hills of Arroyo Verde Park offer the perfect place to enjoy a nice stroll above the Pacific Ocean. ienjoysushi.

The quaint and lightly-trafficked trails at Arroyo Verde Park offer an easy escape in the hills of Ventura. Winding through fields of wild sage, the swooping trails here deliver sweeping views of the Pacific stretching far off into the distance. The meadow encircled by the trail is often filled with bouncy houses and family barbecues on weekend days. But in general, these trails are uncrowded and tucked quietly in the hills.

Once you’re done with your hike, head on over to Topa Topa Brewing Co, a small on-site craft brewery where your bartender is likely to give you tips on a great full moon night hike, if you’ve still got the energy. The best part about this place (other than the beer, of course) is the good vibes and good company. This is a place where the pretense of Ventura is left at the door. And who knows? You may even find your new hiking buddy.

4. Matilija Creek Trail | Chief’s Peak

Ojai is a beautiful haven hidden in Ventura County northwest of Los Angeles and east of Santa Barbara. Some know Ojai for its expansive vineyards and farmland, but what really makes Ojai exciting is its access to untapped and raw natural beauty. One of the highlight hikes in the area is the Matilija Creek Trail—an 8-mile path through a scenic canyon in the Los Padres National Forest. The further you travel into the canyon, the more secluded it becomes and the more swimming holes you’ll find along the way. You’ll likely get wet on this trail, so sandals are a good idea, as is an adventurous spirit.

When you’re ready for that post-hike wind down, head to Chief’s Peak, a hip beer and wine bar tucked into the back of the boutique Ojai Rancho Inn. The beer and wine selections rotate, but the good vibes are always there to stay.

5. Cheeseboro Canyon Trail | Twisted Oak Tavern

The golden grasses of Morrison Ranch in Cheeseboro Canyon
The golden grasses of Morrison Ranch in Cheeseboro Canyon. National Park Service.

If you’re looking to get out of the city a little ways, the Santa Monica Mountains to the west provide a large swath of wilderness expanse along the scenic Pacific Coast. One of the best hikes here is the Cheeseboro Canyon Trail . This 4.6 mile trail can be made into a loop route, or can be done as an out-and-back as well. Either way, hikers will be treated to uninterrupted views of what Southern California must have originally looked like, replete with rolling hills and groves of coastal and valley oak.

Nearby Twisted Oak Tavern is the obvious choice for when you’re done with your hike. Located in Agoura Hills, Twisted Oak is all about exquisite food, great drinks, and good company. With an in-house brewing operation known as The Lab Brewing Co. and a brewmaster who’s referred to around town as ‘Dr. Hops’, it’s no surprise that CraftBeer.com voted this place the best beer bar in California in 2016. And with a menu that features locally-sourced ingredients from the the backyard garden, you’re guaranteed to have an award-winning combination of food and drink.

Originally written by RootsRated.

Featured image provided by James Gubera